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Seoul city to introduce Uber rival premium taxi service

Thu 12 Feb 2015

Seoul city has today announced that it will be launching a luxury taxi service this summer to rival the global cab-hailing app Uber, adding to the obstacles that the US-based firm is currently facing in the Asian market.

The government’s move comes after the country’s transport department rejected a proposal from Uber last week for a new driver registration, and enforced its stance against Uber operating in the area.

The fast-growing tech company, which connects passengers to private car tax-drivers over a smartphone app, is now worth close to $41bn (approx. £27bn) yet is battling tough regulation and bans across South Korea, India, France and Spain regarding unlicensed drivers, as well as alleged incidents of rape.

The new premium service will be introduced in Seoul city in August with 100 luxury and mid-sized saloon cars.

“We will provide a premium tax service which excels that of Uber…” the Seoul government said in a statement. It stated that a taxi association would be partners of the scheme to help establish the service, but added no detail regarding which company they would be working with.

The city is also looking to introduce services which connect users to registered taxi vehicles across smartphone apps from next month, to be run in association with local telco firms such as SK Telecom and KakaoTalk.

Last month, Seoul began to offer cash rewards of up to 1mn won (£608) for anyone who reports an Uber driver in operation.

In December, South Korean courts found Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick and its South Korean branch in breach of the country’s transport rules which require all vehicles and drivers involved in taxi services hold a license.

An Uber spokesperson responded that the company would be “ready to open dialogue with the city government of Seoul,” contesting that they “have such overwhelming support from [their] customers because Uber is safer than any other mode of transportation in Seoul.”


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